Schools encouraged to take more risks in the classroom

What I found interesting here was the way in which ‘risk’ was described. It was clear that the students were engaged in a problem-based learning kind of exercise, but the benefits of risk were singled out and described in a circuitous way, as a tack-on to the ‘real’ learning, a trick that would make it more fun. (Which, BTW, would suggest that traditional methods like exams and singling out in class, as high-risk, would be highly beneficial.) Was this just BBC Breakfast Soft Piece shorthand, or is stuff like PBL so outside public consciousness that most people just don’t get it?

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Journal of Ambient Intelligence and Humanized Computing

I haven’t had a good look at the content in this journal, but I like the fact that it exists–and that it’s both interdisciplinary and crosses academic/practitioner boundaries (terribly post-human…expect that it’s a traditional journal…). Here’s what they cover:
‘…all aspects of ambient intelligence and humanized computing, such as intelligent/smart objects, environments/spaces, and systems…various technical, safety, personal, social, physical, political, artistic and economic issue…’

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memes, mind and robots

This brief interview (apparently procured by a journalist pursuing Daniel Dennett out of the lecture theatre and down the road to his lunch appointment, and only taking the hint when the starter arrived) touches on a couple things we’ve been discussing.

One is memes, which Dennett seems to be suggesting rely on a social hierarchy to be passed from the top on down. (I guess for modern times he’s thinking of marketing/advertising, curriculum, political parties, religions here as well as more microcosmic social hierarchies like a workplace or club…I wonder if things like wikipedia would have an effect on this or not…or does wikipedia hold a certain position in the hierarchy of crowdsourced information repositories…?) But he does also point to a spectrum of memes, from ‘mistakes’ akin to genetic mutation (e.g. a malapropism becoming the standard word/phrase) to purposeful meme-creation (e.g. as far as I can tell, anything knowingly created and made public in any way). The crux here is just quickly quoted, but I think is quite important to post-humanism: ‘The mind is the effect, not the cause.’

This is expanded a bit more later in the interview, where Dennett criticises the ‘greedy reductionism’ that equates the brain with the mind, turning them both into unresponsible machines. This certainly echoes Hayle’s problematisation of separating thought from body, but from a slightly different angle. I would interpret this as saying mind, differentiated from brain, is that constantly fluctuating non-subject; the genes of the brain are mostly unchanging, but the memes, the food, the weather, the beauty and horror of the environment are all constantly working on the pliable mind.

And lastly, in a little throw-away bit (when the man clearly wanted his lunch), Dennett confessed to Short Circuit being his favourite AI movie. Why? Because we can’t help but anthropomorphise the robot.

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Church of Fools

Steph’s post on papal intrigue made me think (in a rhizomic way, of course) about this site, a virtual church. This seems to highlight the porous relationships among the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional, and between humans and digital creations, especially as traditional physical religious spaces are meant to point (in some way) to something non-tangible…

On another tangent, this is linked to the Ship of Fools site, which perhaps suggests the pastoral idea of the church as community more than a pixeled nave…although perhaps loses something in the architecture of a discussion board?

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This Article Generating Thousands Of Dollars In Ad Revenue Simply By Mentioning New iPad

This seemed appropriate for a discussion of where a person ends and technology begins–fits quite well with Pickering’s temporal emergence. And it adds a new dimension to speech act theory :)

Also, if it had been real, what would my reposting do…?


The Professors’ Big Stage

The first few paragraphs are especially of interest, suggesting the superstar academic. Is this a real cultural phenomenon or is it a bit more complicated…?

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#durbbu mini ethnography

Here is my mini ethnography on the twitter feed for the Durham Blackboard Users Conference 2013. I decided to use Storify as I was intrigued by the approbation of narrative style in ethnographies both in Hine (2000, p. 44) and in a chance email quoting Carolyn Ellis (The Ethnographic I, 2004) regarding autoethnography. Not to mention that it seemed to handle tweets well within a ‘story’ context!

One of the reasons that I chose this community was that it ticked all the boxes for an ethical analysis:

1) What ethical expectations are established by the venue?
Twitter is considered to be a very public forum. I have first determined that each tweet I quote was available without logging into twitter (e.g. via twubs or a search engine) before posting it.

2) Who are the subjects posters / authors / creators of the material and/or inter/actions under study?
All contributors were adults attending a professional event.

3) What are the initial ethical expectations/assumptions of the authors/subjects being studied?
Participants were not told that the twitter feed was private, nor were they cajoled into using it. Participants could set their own twitter preferences, or refrain from tweeting all together. Participants may not have been aware that the tweets at this hashtag were being aggregated on another site (twubs); this aggregation had been applied to the hashtag by a third party for at least two years before the event in question. However, for the purposes of this ethnography I only used tweets which appeared both in this public space and publicly on twitter.

4) What ethically significant risks does the research entail for the subject(s)?
The possible harm here is minimal. It is possible that a participant who did not understand how twitter works could have posted tweets that they did not wish to be public. However, this study does not significantly add to this risk, as the tweets were already public.



Amazon rainforest tribe at centre of new cultural storm

Here’s an anthropologist who seems to want to relegate post-modernism to ‘comparative literature, gender studies, philosophy and others’. But don’t worry–proper science will eventually reclaim the field!

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Harlem Shake: Tracking a meme over a month

This is an interesting tracking of an online meme and rather funny for BBC News to be musing over what makes something cool. The article certainly considers this to be a global and cultural phenomenon, and highlights the importance of making your own video (rather than, as in Gangnam style, mainly consuming the video or its spin-offs)…does that mean there is a Harlem Shake community?

It was apparent that this couldn’t have been possible without corporate backing, however obliquely. YouTube is pretty ubiquitous, but it was a combination of the original song’s producer and that actually got the meme started. And the article argues that mainstream media attention tends to feed rather than kill ‘grassroots’ fads.

Case to consider: the Guardian posts a video of the English National Ballet’s attempt…

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I was just reminded of this as an interesting test case for ‘is this a community?’ Even though completely random, it’s still self-selecting (‘people who like to meet random people on the internet’?).

It does smack a bit of a film I don’t think we mentioned in the first block. Here’s the scene in question:

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